Books are a uniquely portable magic. ~ Stephen King

Monday, February 22, 2010

In Which We Go to Texas and Uncle Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Memoir Mondays

A few weeks back I wrote a post on Keep in Touch With Mommakin that referred to my first year of grad school as 'Around the World in Eighty Lays'. This prompted my roommate from those days and I to want to relive them through writing a joint memoir. I write a chapter, she adds a 'journal entry' to show the same story through different eyes. At this point I'm referring to it as The Texas Project. I hope to come up with something better soon. Until then, without further ado, Chapter 1 of The Texas Project (subtitle: Around the World in Eighty Lays)

In case you missed something:

In Which I Lose a Love, Make a Friend and Run Away From Home

In Which We Go to Texas and Uncle Frankie Goes to Hollywood

The summer flew by as I prepared to make this huge move. I ran into Jeff and his new love at the mall once. They were holding hands. He tried to talk to me, but I just couldn’t. I ran away – allowing him to make me a fool one last time. I cried on and off for days. That little encounter proved beyond the shadow of any doubt – if there had been any to begin with – that a little distance was just what the doctor ordered. As my parents drove me to the airport I was not plagued by any form of regret. This was what I needed to do, of that there was no doubt.

Terri met me at the airport. She looked great. We were both ridiculously happy. We knew we were supposed to be, or at least look, sad and conflicted – for our parents’ sakes – as we boarded the plane, but neither of us could manage it. We were moving. We were moving halfway across the country with nothing but the luggage we could carry with us on the plane. A friend of Terri’s who went to the university had secured a furnished apartment for us, so we didn’t really need much. Plus, we’d heard rumors that they had stores in Texas. A new life deserved a little new stuff.

We were rather giddy with the excitement of it all and couldn’t stop chattering and speculating about the brand new life ahead of us as well as gossiping about the summer that was coming to an end. There were a couple boys in the row behind us who, noticing our fun and easy-going mood, engaged us in conversation and offered to buy us beers when the drink cart made its way through the aisle. There’s really only one appropriate answer when someone offers to buy one a beer, and that answer is, of course, ‘yes, please’. Terri and I were nothing if not appropriate.

These young men told us they were from England, although, being the recent college graduates that we were, we had already surmised that based upon their accents. We were brilliant and perceptive like that. What is it about an accent that is different from one’s own that is so damn disarming? We were kneeling on our seats to talk to these boys behind us. They kept the beers coming; we kept being charmed by their accents.

“Do you know Frankie Goes to Hollywood?” the lad who called himself Ian asked during a lull in the conversation.

“Of course”, I replied. It was the summer of 1984 – it would’ve been pretty hard to miss them. Their song Relax was all over the radio and the still relatively brand spankin’ new MTV, plus the fashion statement of the summer had been an oversized T-shirt with oversized letters spelling out: FRANKIE SAYS RELAX.

“Well, Frankie, he’s my uncle.”

“He is not! There IS no Frankie – it’s just the name of the band. Like Blondie.”

“Blondie’s a babe” added the one who called himself David.

“Debbie Harry’s a babe”, Terri corrected him, “Blondie’s a band”.

“Like Frankie Goes to Hollywood”, I added, in attempt to bring the conversation back to where it had started.

“No! Frankie’s my uncle! He’s the lead singer!”

“Not buyin’ it for a second. Mostly because THERE IS NO FRANKIE!”

We were becoming very popular on the plane by now, as the argument escalated; amplification by beer. No one said anything, though, and we figured we could handle a dirty look or two. Let them look! We were starting a new chapter in our lives and we WANTED to be noticed, dammit!

Now let me be clear. I didn’t trust these boys. After all, who would choose to lie about something that was such a matter of public record? But I liked them. They had cute accents and cute faces and they bought us beer. It was enough. I gave up the argument, even though I knew I was right, and resumed the regularly scheduled flirtation, already in progress. As the plane began its descent, the four of us decided we wanted to keep the party going on the ground. None of us knew the town we were headed to well, but they had friends picking them up at the airport. They gave us directions to a little bar where they’d be later that night.

Terri’s friend was picking us up at the airport. He had us drop him off at his parents’ place, and then lent us not only his car but also his apartment until ours would be ready to move into in a couple days. We threw our suitcases into his apartment and headed directly to the bar. If we hurried, we could keep the buzz we’d acquired on the plane in maintenance mode.

Our British friends were already there and they greeted us with friendly kisses as we arrived. How very continental. They pulled up a couple seats for us and introduced us to their friends. As the bar began to fill up and seating became a hot commodity, Terri and I gave up ours in favor of Ian and Dave’s laps. It seemed like the appropriate thing to do and, as I’ve already established, Terri and I were nothing if not appropriate.

“Are you guys hungry? I’m hungry.” Dave and Ian’s friends had already left and the crowd in the bar was starting to thin out.

“I could eat.”

“Me too.”

We rose to leave. The boys took care of what had to have been a hefty tab and we headed to the parking lot together, leaning on each other out of a combination of drunkenness and lustful anticipation. We tumbled into the car and the serious kissing commenced before the key hit the ignition. Terri and Ian were devouring each others faces in the front seat while Dave and I got all tangled up in the back. It was the desperate, sloppy kissing generally associated with drunken one night stands. Dave made a clumsy attempt at my bra hook and in the moment I took debating offering assistance, the whole car jerked as Terri jumped back. Dave and I sat up and Terri turned around in her seat to address me, “I’m leaving.”

“Whu….?” I was a little disoriented and a lot disheveled.

“Just – I need to go.” She was adjusting her clothing as she reached for the car door. Ian reached over to pull her back in. I still had no idea what the hell was going on, but I felt a lot more sober than I had seconds before.

“What happened?”

“HE”, she said, fire shooting from her eyes as she pointed a shaking finger at Ian, “is a presumptuous dick.”

Ian turned around and shrugged his shoulders at Dave, as if to say, “Chicks. What are you gonna do?”

“Are you coming?”

“Yeah, of course”, my turn to shrug at Dave, “but what’s up?”

“HE….” She began again, anger making it difficult for her to get much more out, “figured that if I liked kissing him, I’d probably like blowing him.”

Ian made eye contact with Dave. I didn’t speak fluent boy at the time, but I was pretty sure the message was something like, “duh”.

I started pulling myself together and reaching for my own door handle. We got out of their car and started walking towards our own borrowed wheels as the boys plead loudly with us to come back. Terri was so angry she was shaking. She hurled expletives at their car the whole way across the parking lot. As we settled into our car, I asked if she was ok to drive. She held up one finger – implying that she would be in a minute. It wasn’t the same finger she’d been using to gesture at Ian’s car.

“What happened back there?” I asked when her breathing had resumed a more normal pattern.

“We were making out, you know, kissing and stuff. And WHILE he was kissing me, he pushed the back of my head down towards his lap.”

“Ew. Dick.”

“Well, yeah, I guess that was the idea.”

We both laughed a little and I hugged her. “You ok now?”

“Yeah. Still hungry though.”

“Me too.”

“What do you want?”


“Me too.”

We drove around for a while, trying to find someplace that was open without completely losing our bearings in this new town, in the dark, with the remnants of a buzz. And we found someplace to satisfy our Yankee cravings for Mexican.

“Welcome to Taco Bell, may I take your order?

We ate our burritos in the car in a comfortable silence, interrupted only by the occasional muttered, “dick”.

Welcome to Texas.
Welcome home.

Terri’s Journal Aug. 18, 1984 (Holy shit is it hot here! We left Buffalo this morning and it was 80 degrees. Perfectly normal, it's Aug. We stepped off the plane and walked out of the airport and I think it's about 250 degrees out!!! I mean, the thermometer says it's 105 but it sure feels a lot more like 250 to me!! How do these people live down here without melting?!?!) Well THIS has certainly been an interesting day. Talk about some highs and lows. Jesus. The day started out great. Tammy and her parents met us at the Buffalo airport for our flight. We could barely contain ourselves, we were so excited to get on the plane and get going. Our parents were possibly not as thrilled as we were but they faked it for us just the same. During the flight, we ended up talking to some British guys who were sitting behind us. They offered to buy us beers, which almost instantly made them our new best friends. The one guy was kind of an ass and started telling us some shit about how Frankie from Frankie Goes to Hollywood is his uncle. Tammy started arguing with him that there IS no Frankie, it's just the name of the band. But he insisted it's his UNCLE Frankie. I didn't tell Tammy this, so as not to look like a total idiot, but I had no fucking clue what he was talking about. Never heard of the group, couldn't tell you if there's a Frankie or Johnny or Pete. No idea. But Tammy knows way more than I do about this sort of thing so I trusted she was right, which I have no doubt she is, and I backed her up and argued her side of the debate right along with her. Anyway, we're drinking w/ these guys (or I guess you call them blokes when they're English) and they decided we were having too much fun to let it end just b/c our flight ended. They were getting picked up at the airport by a friend. So were we. So we made plans to meet later at a bar. Mark loaned us his car, b/c that's the incredibly nice kind of guy that he is, and we set out to meet some total strangers at a bar. So far, so good. The day has been great! This is where the low part of the day comes in. So we go to this bar. Drink drink drink, laugh laugh laugh, flirt flirt flirt (which by the way, I'm very bad at). We decide to go somewhere else to get something to eat. In the car, me in front w/ Ian, Tammy in back w/ David, we all start making out. THEN, this unbelievable PRICK, grabs the back of my head while we're kissing, and starts pushing me down toward his dick. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! I said what the fuck do you think you're doing? He said, what's wrong, don't you want to? I said ARE YOU *FUCKING* KIDDING ME?! You think b/c we're kissing that I'm automatically going to go down on you?! Right here in the car, w/ other people in the back seat, when I barely know you.....I just kept listing reasons it wasn't going to happen. I felt like I was screaming but apparently I was a bit more calm than I felt b/c Tammy didn't realize anything was wrong until I started to get out of the car. She asked what was going on. I said I'm leaving. And this ASSHOLE has the nerve to look at me like there's something wrong with ME!!! Unbelievable. So once I made it clear to Tammy that I was outta there, she of course got out of the car too and we left--amid much loud, continuous cursing from me. The night got better from there. We went to Taco Bell on our way home and drowned our (my) sorrows in hot sauce.

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